Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie speaks at the Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Iowa, January 24, 2015.
Jim Young/Reuters

Christie casts himself in the role of terrorist fighter

The basic structure of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) presidential stump speech seems to be taking shape, and the governor seems especially interested in praising his no-nonsense style.
“I’m not too blunt, I’m not too direct to be in Iowa or any place else in this country,” Christie said. “Because what we need now in my opinion in this country more than anything else, is some blunt, direct straight talk to fix problems that that we’ve been avoiding for too long.”
Asked after the speech about congressional authorization to fight ISIS, Christie said, “I’ve said all I’m going to say tonight.”
It’s a familiar problem for the ambitious Republican: Christie loves talking about direct straight talk, usually while avoiding direct straight talk.
But what struck me as especially interesting was the governor’s effort to position himself as a counter-terrorism hero.
The governor noted that he was nominated as U.S. Attorney by President George W. Bush the day before the 9/11 attacks, and he spoke with emotion about people he knew who died in the World Trade Center.
“Global terrorism and radical Islam is not a theory to me,” he said, adding that he makes “no apologies for fighting terrorism hard” in that office, which he held for seven years before running for governor in 2009.
Rhetoric like this always amuses me. Who, exactly, is asking Christie to apologize for “fighting terrorism hard”? Putting aside whether Christie is really the counter-terrorism champion he claims to be, when has anyone ever said his efforts warrant an apology?
More specifically, the governor with no foreign policy, national security, or military experience added:
Christie, who reminded the audience that it was his 13th time to Iowa since 2011, talked at length about foreign policy, mostly accusing the President of pulling back from the world while taking credit for trying to root out terrorism.
“You see the President taking bows, saying he has terrorism on the run, yet ISIS is beheading people and burning foreign soldiers alive,” he said.
I’m not sure who’s writing this stuff for Christie, but it’s hard to imagine he actually believes this. Obama’s pulling back from the world … except for his leadership on combating ISIS … which led the president to take imaginary bows … which doesn’t count if ISIS kills people.
Finally, the governor told Iowans, “What we’re doing in New Jersey can be done across the entire country.” Yeah about that:
Former Gov. Tom Kean sees Christie as wounded, and says he will be vulnerable when attention turns to his record in New Jersey. But it’s early, Kean says, and Christie remains the top talent in the field.
“If this gets into a real race, they’re going to look at New Jersey,” Kean says. “They’re going to look at that bond rating. And there are going to be opponents with a lot of money to do negative ads if they like.”